Sometimes you just need a bite-sized bit of cannoli.
Cannolis are a perplexing dessert for me. I do like them, but whenever we are at a restaurant that serves them, more than likely there is another dessert that tempts me more. Perhaps it’s a dish of salted caramel gelato or a slice of limoncello cake on the menu, either of which would win the dessert battle. There are just so many delicious desserts that sometimes stack ranking is needed.
That’s not to say that I don’t like cannolis. Two years ago I made a homemade version with a twist: Deconstructed Cannoli. It delivered almost all of the flavor of cannolis with a different presentation. I have yet to make true cannolis for one simple reason: the shell is supposed to be deep fried.
As regular readers know, I’m not a huge fan of fried foods. At home I’m even less a fan because not only is the food fried but also your home smells like frying oil for days. Blech!
I’ve been thinking about cannolis lately and wondering how I could get closer to the actual flavors of it. The deconstructed version used broken waffle cones, which had a fine texture but were missing something in their flavor profile. What I was surprised to discover is that the missing taste is marsala. Yep, that wine that is used in a number of Italian entrées also gives cannoli shells their signature taste. Next, all I had to do was figure out how to bake the shells.
By converting the shells into cups, my mini muffin pan could be the baking vessel for these treats. None of the frying, all of the flavor and crispness! For those who prefer shells covered in chocolate, the cup edges also can be dipped and coated. (Although I didn’t do it, for choco-holics, the entire cup could probably be covered in chocolate. . . Just saying.)
- 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting work surface
- 1-1/2 Tb. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 2 Tb. butter, melted
- 1 egg white
- ¼ cup marsala wine*
- 8 oz. whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tb. almond liqueur
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, optional
- Minced almonds or sprinkles, optional
- Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a stand mixer on stir.
- Add melted butter, turn to speed 2, and mix until butter is well distributed, about 1 minute.
- While mixing add egg white, and mix for another minute.
- Add marsala slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, until dough begins to form a ball.
- Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
- Combine ricotta, powdered sugar, and liqueur in a bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Roll chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface (dusting top of dough also) to about an 1/8-inch thickness.**
- Cut into circles using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter (or glass of similar size).
- Place rounds in an ungreased mini muffin tin, pressing evenly into sides and bottom of muffin cup.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- If desired, dip cooled cannoli cups in melted chocolate, then almonds or sprinkles. (If adding chocolate, refrigerate cups to set chocolate before filling.)
- Fill each cup with a tablespoon of ricotta mixture.
- Refrigerate or serve immediately.
- May not need to use all of the marsala. I used about 3 of the 4 tablespoons.
- Thin dough is key to producing crisp cups.